In the summer of 2017, Ben Goodliffe joined the numerous PASE success stories to have graduated from Boreham Wood and Barnet & Southgate’s football and education scheme.
The midfielder was snapped up by Championship heavyweights Wolverhampton Wanderers, signing until May 2019.
The PASE Academy gives real opportunities to its players to progress and make it as a pro, or semi-pro footballer and Goodliffe is just one of many examples.
Could you be the next success story out of the PASE Academy? Then sign up for your trial, on Tuesday, April 10. Apply online via: http://www.borehamwoodfootballclub.co.uk/how-to-apply-pase/, or call the PASE office on 020 8953 5716.
Recalling the move, Goodliffe said: “A few scouts came and watched when I started playing a few games in the first team and it all sort of happened from there really.
“Negotiations happened with Danny Hunter himself, Kevin Thelwell (Sporting Director of Wolves), and the club. It got down to a date where I went up and spoke to a few people at Wolves and they offered me a contract.
“Danny Hunter played a massive part. When you first hear of interest, most people go and look for an agent, but to be honest with you, I didn’t need one, because Danny Hunter sorted it all for me and I have to give credit to him, because without him, I don’t think that I would have gotten the deal. All of the support from the staff and the players themselves was very good.”
A dream move had come to fruition for the young midfielder, and yet, his excitement was curtailed when he suffered an injury to his knee.
“I was excited to an extent, because I had just signed for Wolves, but then I found out that I had a bit of a knee injury, which we needed to sort out before I could play any games. That was a bit disheartening, but I was still excited, it was a new challenge, and a lifestyle that I wanted to live.
“I was out injured for 17-21 weeks, with recovery and rehab work, and then it was a case of right, that’s it, you can go back into training now. I had to work to get my fitness up, because everyone else was ahead of me and I was playing catch-up. But once I got back fit and started playing a few games, to be honest with you, I think that I started playing well, and I have kept my place in the team.”
Goodliffe had come through the youth system at Tottenham Hotspur, but failed to make the grade and was released at an early age.
It was in the PASE academy that he says he grew as a player, before the switch to Wolves. He explained how contrasting the two clubs were: “It is a completely different lifestyle to be honest with you.
“You are playing under 23s football, which is a different philosophy to how non-league is played. I know that non-league teams try and play a bit of football, but a lot of it is in the air, and you have got to do the ugly side of the game. Whereas, under 23s football in this league is all about playing with your feet.
“PASE was good for me, because I had been at Tottenham and then went into Sunday League, before having a trial at Boreham Wood. It was a case of enjoying my football again, because I had come out of Tottenham not enjoying it.
“Boreham Wood got me back on my feet and I started playing regularly, with a bunch of good players and good mates of mine, who I am still friends with now. It was a case of enjoying my football but succeeding at the same time.
“We won some good trophies at Boreham Wood, a lot of good cups, and we had a good run in the FA Youth Cup. I look back at it and I don’t regret anything at all, because everything at the club was very good for me.”
Goodliffe is a huge advocate of the PASE Academy and what it can offer young players, citing the England Colleges experience as a key example.
Alongside Sorba Thomas and Fred Burbidge, Goodliffe represented Boreham Wood and Barnet and Southgate college in the England Colleges squad last year, being made captain of the side.
As has been well publicized, Cheyce Grant, Iliman Ndiaye, Dan Creese, Alex Morgan and Archie Pepper have all made the England Colleges squad this year.
Goodliffe continued: “England Colleges is such a great experience and you can’t ever fault anything to do with your country. It was an honour to be made captain as well; going away on tour; meeting new people and different characters; learning a different playing style; it was a great experience and I can’t fault any of it.
“I still look out for what happens in PASE and I saw that the five boys got called up to the England Colleges squad this year. I congratulated them all and wished them the best.”
Coming towards the end of his first season at Wolves, Goodliffe talked us through his year so far. He explained: “My highlight so far would be getting myself fit, getting myself in the team and staying in the team.
“I was made captain for a few games, which was a highlight as well and I scored a good goal against Norwich.
“The ball came into the box from a corner and I cleared some space for myself – we work on set-pieces anyway – and it was a diving header off the far post and in.
“I want to get my head down and play 23s for the rest of the season and then next year I will see what options are available to me, whether that is at the start of the season, or mid-season, when the transfer window opens.
“There could be the opportunity of getting myself out and looking at a loan option, or they may be happy for me to keep playing under 23s football and keep developing and learning the game. I am sure my opportunity will come when the time is right.”